Storykeepers (part 1)
We are called to be ‘Story keepers’
Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is a fascinating story of God’s love. This life-changing story has been (re) told for the last 2000 years. In fact, followers of Jesus ( in every generation) have been ‘Story keepers’. They have kept the gospel story alive by re-telling it to their world. The followers of Jesus have kept the story alive despite opposition, oppression and persecution. Our fore-parents heard the story and their lives have never been the same again. The history of the transformation of individuals and communities in India power of the gospel is a fascinating read. We are story keepers too. We have heard the gospel story from our parents and we need to share this story to our generation as well. Our primary calling is to keep the story alive by being, doing and (re)telling the gospel to our generation and beyond.
The rules have changed
In order to keep the story of Jesus we must tell the story – attractively, intelligently and responsibly- to our peers. The first step forward is to understand the contemporary world we live in. Our world has radically changed in the last few decades. The engines of globalization have changed the hue and texture of our society. We live in a culture driven by Information Technology. The wide spread consumer-culture, leisure-culture, machine-culture and megabyte/mega pixel-culture have changed people’s tastes, needs, desires and questions. Moreover, the intellectual climate has also changed. Skepticism, Relativism and Tolerance are values that people ‘fanatically’ hold to. Worse, people’s sensibilities are hurt by facts, reality and truth.
So, (re)telling the gospel story in an information age can be a challenging task. Storytelling within an information culture requires a different skill-set. How are we to compete with the huge Hollywood budgets? How are we to compete with the creative programming of MTV? How are we to compete with the reach of the media networks run by powerful Corporations?
Contemporary Christian story telling/keeping
Entertainment media has an overpowering influence on our lives. That Media make up the cultural “air” in which we live, breathe, move and have our being is definitely not an overstatement. The dominance of popular culture is felt in every arena of life. How do we keep the story of Jesus alive against the dominance of the media? How do we re-tell the story in an information age? The immediate temptation is to adopt contemporaneous ‘forms’ that are popular with young people. There’s more style than substance. The pull-factor is more the “form” rather than “content”. The real tragedy of contemporary Christian storytelling is that we end up giving “entertainment” instead of the “message”.
How, then do we re-tell the story?
We need not present a different gospel, but we need to present the gospel story with a difference. The persuasiveness of the gospel story is in its ‘content’ and how its transforming presence and power can redeem the “tired-torn-and-tensed” generation. It is not just enough to re-tell the gospel “attractively” and “intelligently” to command a listening by contemporary audience. It is important that we re-tell the gospel story “responsibly” so that we capture the imagination of our contemporary audience with the truth, beauty, goodness of the gospel story. We are called to be Story tellers/keepers. We need to re-tell the gospel story in a manner that would capture the imagination of contemporary audiences. It is not just enough to re-tell the gospel “attractively” and “intelligently” to command a listening by contemporary audience. It is important that we re-tell the gospel story “responsibly”. How, then do we re-tell the story. We don’t have to grope in the dark. Fortunately, the bible has enough examples for the 21st century ‘story keepers’. Let us listen to a first-century ‘story keeper’ and learn some lessons.
(To be continued. This is the first of the 2-part article titled “Story Keepers” in an information age by Samuel Thambusamy. Please Scroll down to read part 2. The author can be reached at email@example.com)